Can Forceps Cause Brain Damage?

The birth of a child is equal parts exhilarating and terrifying for most parents, and the potential for complications during childbirth is a significant concern for many expectant parents. During the delivery, there are many possible situations that can require the doctor to use specialized equipment for a safer birth. For example, some women will be unable to deliver their babies naturally and must undergo cesarean section procedures instead. Others may have pre-existing medical conditions that require careful monitoring, while some others carry babies who have prenatal health conditions or other issues.

Doctors may use forceps to assist in the delivery of a newborn. This tool resembles a pair of tongs and functions in a similar manner. The jaws of the forceps open and close to allow a doctor to finely grasp parts of the newborn as he or she exits the birth canal, turning the baby’s head to the safest positions. The doctor must be extremely careful not to push or pull on the baby too hard.

Several potential risks of using forceps during childbirth exist, chief among them being fatal injury to a newborn or the mother. Doctors must have a good reason to use these tools during delivery or they risk serious injuries to the babies they deliver. If you or your child was injured by negligent use of forceps, consult a compassionate New York City birth injury attorney.

Injuries from Forceps

Most injuries from forceps happen due to excessive force. During each contraction, the doctor should use the forceps to help guide the baby down through the birth canal without pulling too hard. Too much pressure on an infant’s head can cause bleeding in the brain, cerebral palsy, and a host of other possible developmental delays. The intention of using forceps should not be to grasp the baby and pull it out of the mother, but rather to guide the baby’s head into the best position to facilitate a natural birth.

It’s also important to remember the medical community generally recommends that doctors who perform delivery procedures only use one assisted delivery tool during a procedure. For example, if the doctor already used a vacuum extractor and it did not work, the doctor should not attempt to use forceps unless the situation clearly demands their use.

Forceps can also cause permanent injuries to a newborn’s face and head, eyes, or even skull fractures. Infants could suffer severe injuries, even fatal injuries from improperly applied forceps, but mothers may suffer injuries, too. Forceps may cause bleeding inside the mother’s vaginal cavity, tears, or even uterine ruptures. Mothers may also experience anemia from blood loss, bladder injuries, and urethral injuries.

When Is a Forceps-Related Injury Malpractice?

Medical malpractice occurs when a doctor or other medical professional violates the standard of care for a patient’s condition. Childbirth can be a complex process and the experience is different for everyone, but a doctor must be able to determine if a situation genuinely requires forceps before using them. If another doctor with similar skills would have acted differently in the same circumstances, it’s likely that your doctor committed medical malpractice.

A birth injury from forceps use may impact a newborn for the rest of his or her life, resulting in profound developmental delays, brain damage, cognitive impairment, visual impairment, and many other possibilities. Parents of children who experience these catastrophic injuries need to know their rights and how to pursue medical malpractice claims when necessary.

If you or your newborn child suffered injuries due to the improper use of forceps, your doctor may be liable for medical malpractice. Your NYC medical malpractice lawyer can help you consult with expert witnesses who can testify as to whether the use of forceps was acceptable for your situation.